Charleston Southern treks to Liberty this weekend for Big South series

Charleston Southern treks to Liberty this weekend for Big South series

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern heads back on the road for their first road trip in over two weeks as the Buccaneers make the trek up to Lynchburg, Va., to take on Big South rival Liberty University this weekend in conference softball action.

The Buccaneers and Flames will battle in a three-game weekend series with Friday's doubleheader set for 2 p.m., while first pitch on Saturday's series finale is set for 1 p.m. at the Liberty Softball Field. Live Stats will be provided on LibertyFlames.com for all three games.

Charleston Southern looks to bounce back from a recent tough stretch that has seen the Buccaneers drop four games in a row since last Saturday's opener against Presbyterian. The Buccaneers fell in the final two games in the series against the Blue Hose and then dropped two decisions mid-week against visiting College of Charleston to wrap up a 10 game home stand for the Buccaneers that dated back to the March 15th series opener against Longwood.

The CSU-Liberty series beings an eight game road trip for the Buccaneers as Charleston Southern will return to the state of South Carolina to take on the University of South Carolina on April 1st, a doubleheader against CofC on April 5th and a doubleheader against Big South opponent Coastal Carolina on April 8th. The Bucs return home to the Buccaneer Softball Field on April 12-13 for a conference weekend against Radford.

Last season Charleston Southern won two of three against the Flames in taking the season series from Liberty at the CSU Softball Field and has won five of their past seven against the Flames dating back to the 2011-12, including a win in the 2012 Big South Softball Championship first round.

This season, the Bucs enter the weekend with a 17-20-1 overall record, 3-5 in Big South Conference play, having already taken on Longwood, Winthrop and PC on the season. Liberty takes on Longwood on Thursday night, and is currently 4-24 record, 0-5 in conference action having fallen to Campbell and Longwood.

Jessica Brock continues to lead the Buccaneers as the plate this year, posting a .328 batting average on the year with a team-high 10 doubles and four home runs from the plate. She leads the team with 38 hits and 23 RBI while lining up all over the infield for head coach Shane Winkler this season.

Fellow senior Stephanie Sbardella is also among the team leaders this year from the plate, hitting .299 with 32 hits and nine doubles, while sitting second on the team with 14 RBI. A patient eye at the plate, she leads the Bucs with 14 walks and has been hit by three pitches. She also has reached base in 31 of the 38 games on the season for CSU.

Inside the circle, Jennifer Giles continues to impress on the season with a 2.06 ERA and an 8-6 record with 13 starts and four complete games. Last week, the junior right-hander posted a 3-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in five appearances and continues to lead the Bucs in conference action. In Big South play, Giles has been even better with a 0.95 ERA and a 2-0 record, boasting a 16:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio with wins against Winthrop and Presbyterian.

Freshman Cheyenne Gandara continues to shine on the rubber in her first collegiate season. Gandara leads the team in complete games and shutouts, while posting a 98:41 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. The freshman has carried no-hit bids deep into games against both #1 UCLA and Longwood on the season.

Katie Zavodny leads the Liberty offense at the plate with a 3.41 batting average and paces the team's efforts with 31 hits, 18 runs, two triples and a team-high 17 stolen bases on 23 attempts. Megan Robinson leads the Liberty power output with four of the team's 13 home runs, while Kelby Allen has the team-lead with six doubles and 15 RBI.

Inside the circle, Alyssa DiMartino and Annah Jo Brittingham have combined for 40 appearances and 27 starts for new head coach Dot Richardson. The duo have combined for 11 complete games and two shutouts on the year.

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